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The Woodlands Business & Commercial Law Blog

What are the defining characteristics of closely held businesses?

Starting a business is an exciting venture to pursue. A lot of considerations must be made regarding the legal aspects of forming a business, as these choices can greatly affect the future of the company. For instance, small business owners in Texas and those of larger corporations may choose to keep their companies as closely held businesses. What exactly are the defining characteristics of closely held businesses and how does maintaining this status help a company's bottom-line?

For a business to qualify for closely held status, certain standards must be met. First and foremost, the company's assets need to be held by as few people as possible. According to the IRS, in order for a business to obtain closely held status, more than half of the company must be owned by no more than five people. Certain business types are ineligible to receive a closely held rating, including law firms, accounting firms, personal service firms of any type and engineering firms. However, every state does have individual corporate laws that must also be considered when determining if a business meets the definition of being closely held.

Former employees can cause business disputes in Texas

Most business owners here in Texas know just how important it can be to keep employees happy. This can lead to higher levels of employee retention, better productivity and even fewer sick days. There are times that, even with a business owner's best efforts, some employees are not going to be satisfied at their job. Some of them may even become so upset that they take out their frustrations by compromising a company's online security. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have recently warned that upset former -- or even current -- employees can be a major source of business disputes if their access to a company network isn't monitored.

The FBI and DHS cite the prevalence in the modern office of using computer networks to share information between employees and other authorized entities. Authorities warn that while this connectivity is useful, it can also be dangerous. Some employees have used this access to steal company secrets, abuse customer accounts or even manipulate and eliminate company data. This can occur when a company utilizes a cloud storage website or if an employee installs software on a company computer that allows him or her to log in remotely. 

How are businesses sold in Texas?

Business owners here in Texas are resourceful and hard-working. They often spend years cultivating their companies, allowing them to become profitable and productive. Sometimes, and for varying reasons, a person may decide to sell his or her business. Many may not know exactly how to do so or what the implications may be. Selling businesses can be difficult to accomplish -- it is an important decision and should not be taken lightly, but it can be the best choice in many cases.

Though there are ideal circumstances under which a person would like to sell his or her business, the reality is that it may not be possible to do so. The best thing a business owner can do is determine what is most important. Designating an exact number that the owner would like to sell the business for can also help guide his or her choices. The owner may also not have an accurate picture of what the business is actually worth, especially if he or she has put a great deal of work into developing the company. Assistance from a reputable third party may be necessary.

Intricacies of Texas construction law can benefit from experience

When any building is being constructed, the amount of people and companies that are involved can be quite a few. This can leave open the possibility that personalities will clash, miscommunications will occur or even that someone will deliberately not deliver on a promise made. Whatever happens, the legal implications that can accompany construction can have an impact on everyone's bottom line. For this reason, it can be beneficial to involve an experienced Texas construction law representative. At the law firm of Gauntt, Earl & Binney, LLP we have the background to handle any legal problems that may surface.

One area in which we excel is preventing problems before they begin. We provide risk management services to anyone in construction, be they a contractor, subcontractor or another entity. We will examine contracts and operational procedures as well as generate documentation. It is our aim to avoid litigation whenever possible.

Banks increase lending for commercial real estate in Texas

One of the most important aspects of purchasing a commercial real estate property is financing. Since the recent recession, banks have been less willing to give out loans for commercial real estate investments in Texas or in any other state. However, many financial experts have noted that banks are now beginning to start lending again for commercial real estate.

A recent survey by the Federal Reserve found that banks have been easing up on their standards for obtaining most types of loans for commercial real estate. Also, the latest FDIC report revealed that commercial real estate lending from banks has reached levels that have not been seen since 2007. This is a significant development because banks had avoided giving out loans for commercial real estate for several years due to losses sustained prior to the Great Recession.

What legal measures can help avoid partnership disputes in Texas?

Texas businesses that decide to collaborate may decide to enter a partnership. This can be a formal partnership with specific legal documentation or it may be a verbal agreement. In either case, businesses may not know the exact legal measures involved in order to make these partnerships beneficial to all parties. Potential partnership disputes can be avoided by following certain guidelines. 

Using written, legal documentation may be the best way to ensure that a partnership is successful. They are simple to start and often do not require a great deal of expense. Though there are differences in how they are managed, dependent on the the type of companies involved and the specified type of partnership, they don't always require formal procedures for smaller tasks. Companies can rely on voting when larger decisions have to be made. The tax benefits can be significant for smaller businesses, and these partnerships sometimes aren't required to pay the same minimum taxes that LLCs and corporations must pay. 

Big rig falls from ramp onto freeway.

""On the same day the Texas Department of Transportation was hosting a public meeting on the future of the Highway 59 corridor, the freeway was brought to a halt beneath the North Loop for several hours.Late Wednesday morning, an 18-wheeler said to be carrying filter equipment destined for an oil production operation careened off the elevated ramp that routes traffic from 59 north to the 610 Loop."Read more here:

Texas breach of contract lawsuit filed against Warren Buffett

When one company acquires another, there are many factors that have to be managed properly. One of the biggest is in relation to the compensation of employees. Some companies, when they acquire another, will often provide the same level of compensation as before, though there are many times and many reasons why this may not always be possible. Depending on the particular circumstances, this could be considered a breach of contract. Investor Warren Buffett has been accused of this very thing after a recent federal lawsuit was filed here in Texas.

A brick-making company, Acme Building Brands, was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. back in 2000. The notoriously philanthropic Buffett is the president and CEO of Berkshire. The chief financial officer at Acme has filed a suit alleging that Berkshire underfunded employee retirement funds. She claims that Berkshire made significant changes to Acme's 401(k) plan and stop the growth of benefits -- allegedly, Berkshire cut the employer matching contributions in half.

Legal facets of business formation in Texas

Many people in Texas are considering forming their own business after seeing the successes of others, even in these trying economic times. Though they may have some knowledge of marketing and creating their product, many do not know about laws relating to business formation. It is important that new businesses are created under the proper legal guidelines so owners can prosper and grow.

Several business licenses are typically required for all new companies. They can be obtained at state and local government facilities and can include fire permits, sign permits and a “doing business as” registration. Health department licensing and alcohol permits may also be necessary, if applicable. Different types of businesses can be subject to different regulations, and a small business owner can consult the local chamber of commerce or other related entities for help. Tax status and whether the business will be a corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship will have to be determined as well.

What are Texas developers responsible for under construction law?

When construction is set to begin in a specific area, many different businesses are involved. One of the key players is the developer who oversees the evolution of the property, whether it is an empty piece of land where new construction occurs or a change in the existing construction. The developer may simply run the project or might also serve as the construction company, actually constructing the new buildings. Either way, a Texas developer has specific responsibilities as outlined by construction law.

Under any circumstance, the developer works toward financial gain by making land or property profitable. They own the developed property and can choose to sell it in order to make the desired profit. Many of them create their own construction company in order to more closely oversee the development process and to be certain the work being done is of excellent quality. Several of them use subcontractors to do the required work.